Holmes, who came into the event needing only to finish 13th or better to secure the title, was not content to put it on cruise control. He battled his teammate, series newcomer Paulie Harraka, back-and-forth through much of the race. Once out front, Holmes had to contend with Bowles on his back bumper.
The pair had come in contact on more than one occasion this year and they did, once again, in this final race. This time, contact between the two on lap 148 of the 150-lap event left Holmes spinning in turn 4 and Bowles taking the lead and the win. Holmes recovered for fifth, enough to secure the title.
Although Holmes was fast, his car was not as dominant as it was at Roseville in March, when he led wire-to-wire to win the season opener. “Tonight I had a great car, but not as good as in March” Holmes said of his No. 20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota. “I had to work for it to stay in front of him. I definitely thought I was on my way to a victory. The lapped traffic kind of hurt me. I don’t think Jason would ever take me out on purpose. My spotter said I was clear and I couldn’t tell he was there. I would like to see what really happened.
“It’s a little bittersweet not being in Victory Lane with the victory,” he admitted.
Concerns about the title flashed through his mind during the incident, Holmes said. “That was a big scare when I was spinning there,” said the 34-year-old driver from Escalon, Calif. “I knew I had to get back going and get in line. I had no idea how many lapped cars there were. Fortunately, I was in 10th place and that pretty much secured it there.”
This marks Holmes’ second championship, to go with the 2006 title he won in the only other year of competing full time on the circuit. It gives car owner Bill McAnally his fourth series championship, to go with the three consecutive titles his team captured from 1999-2001.
“The year went real well,” Holmes recalled. “In the summer stretch we had fast cars, but just had a few flat tires that got Jason to catch us a little bit. He had bad luck at a few races, too. It kept it tight.”
Coming into the final event, Bowles had a 68-point deficit to make up in the title hunt. “It would be nice to win the championship and the last race and have all those other things, but it can’t always all go your way,” he said. “We had some things we did ourselves that cost us some points this year. We’ve made some notes and we’ll come back next year and try not to make those same mistakes and hopefully we’ll walk out of here with a championship.”
Bowles said he really had to step up his pace to be in
contention in the late stages of the event. “We had a
good car today,” he said of his No. 22 Sunrise Ford
Ford. “I was taking it a little too easy in the race there
for a while and I had to get up on the wheel there toward
the end and get after it, but once I got going the car was
With the win, Bowles of Ontario, Calif., pulled even with
Holmes – with four wins each this year. They also had
an equal number of Coors Light Pole Awards this
season – with five each.
Following Bowles across the finish line was 2007 series
champion Mike David of Modesto, Calif., in his No. 2
Bennett Lane Winery Ford. Moses Smith of Tempe,
Ariz., scored a career-best third-place finish in the No.
16 HASA Pool Products/White Flyer Toyota, while Todd
Souza of Aromas, Calif., took fourth in the Central Coast
Cabinets Chevrolet. Holmes followed in fifth.
Finishing sixth was Harraka, who demonstrated his
experience on the track where he won the NASCAR
Whelen All-American Series Late Model championship this year. In making only his third start in the NASCAR Camping World Series, he won the pole and led 40 laps.
Rounding out the top 10 were series rookies Jamie Dick and Wes Banks, followed by David Mayhew and Jim Inglebright. The race featured 10 lead changes among three drivers – Holmes, Bowles and Harraka. The pace of the event was slowed by nine cautions for 55 laps.
Holmes finished the season with 2,098 points, 48 markers ahead of Bowles with 2,050. Sunoco Rookie of the Year Jeff Barkshire of Auburn, Wash., finished third overall with 1,955 points. He was followed by David with 1,919 points and Inglebright with 1,840 points. Competing the top 10 are Smith at 1,823, Austin Cameron at 1,770, Mayhew at 1,724, Johnny Borneman at 1,699 and Jason Patison at 1,630.
The NASCAR Camping World Series West will hold its championship banquet at the Sacramento Convention Center on Saturday, Nov. 1.